APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Synthesis of biofuels, industrial chemicals, and specialty chemicals (e.g., valuable fragrances)
- Promises to be more cost effective than chemical production
- Product could be labelled as “natural” in some jurisdictions
- Generation of lactones is of broad industrial utility
- Biosustainable production of molecules could contribute to a substantial reduction in carbon emissions
Traditionally engineered to produce novel bioactive molecules, polyketide synthases (PKSs) are able to synthesize an astonishing diversity of natural products. Additionally, PKS engineering can be an attractive method to generate new molecules such as delta lactones, an important fragrant compound class.
Although this characteristic is promising – especially for the growing market for genetically modified microbial production of fragrance aroma chemicals – delta lactones have been extremely challenging and expensive to make chemically.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have overcome elusive design strategies to construct dimethylated and single-methylated delta lactones via engineered PKSs.
Building upon previous studies, they created a versatile biomodular platform to successfully generate novel biofuels and specialty chemicals in the host Streptomyces albus. The work expands the biological design space to the production of “designer” biomolecules. Ultimately, researchers have established a new chemoinformatic method that may aid in the engineering of PKSs to produce desired unnatural products such as biofuels, industrial chemicals, and fragrances.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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